ISP Mobile Marketing Conference

I was flattered to be asked to chair the Institute of Sales Promotion‘s Mobile Marketing Conference last week. There was some excellent input from brands including Coca Cola, Orange, Barclaycard and Westfield, along with an agency panel including Ogilvy, Saatchi X (no relation to Malcolm X) and BD Group.

I haven’t seen a report from the conference, so here are a few thoughts from where I was sitting (which was right next to the speakers).

The audience consisted of brands and agencies of various sizes. Although brands many had looked at mobile marketing, few were actively involved with it. Coca Cola are one brand that has been ahead of the game in mobile marketing and sales promotions. What I thought was good about the brand was their focus on engagement rather than technology. Their Sprite/Fanta campaign from last year was the most interesting. They offered UK customers 50p mobile top ups by simply texting a code on the ringtab to a shortcode number. The result was 1/2 a million redemptions.

Barclaycard were interesting, if a little bit corporate in their approach. The focus was on contactless payment systems. The company believe that within 10 years we will all be using contactless payment systems (or NFC) and most of that will be through our phones. With a bit of help from MIG, they also showed an AR app (technically though, it is a location app) which pointed to the nearest contactless payment retailers and cash points. There was something of a vague answer to a question of whether they would include vouchering as part of the contactless system. After all if you can take a payment one way, surely it would make sense to go the other way and put vouchers on to RFID phones? It seemed that Barclaycard had no plans to offer it.

Orange speaker, Steve Ricketts was the most relevant of all the presentations, using the Exposure and Exposure 2 studies to show that the greatest area of interest for mobile marketing from consumers was vouchering and discounts. Orange Wednesday is a great example of how mobile vouchering is successful, and has changed consumer perceptions by making Wednesday one of the most popular days to attend the cinema. Steve also announced that Orange will be bringing out contacless payment phone, in conjunction with Barclaycard this year. However, he wouldn’t be pressed on which handset that would be (and I did ask him).

A panel session from creative agencies including Ogilvy, Saatchi X and BD Network, looked at the creative challenges for the mobile marketing sector. The discussion moved to the operators role and away from the purely creative challenges. It was notable that the agencies all saw apps, especially iphone apps as the most creative application for mobile. This was somewhat at odds with the rest of the speakers at the event, who felt they had a place, but probably a nice one.

The stars of the day were David Glennie and Tim Dunn from service provider Mobile Interactive Group who were also event sponsors. David is mobile’s answer to Eddi Izzard, providing a hilarious but informative look at apps, and to some extent their ultimate pointlessness. Tim bravely (and successfully) did some live app demos, including an AR app where he shot at helicopeters hovering above the audience.

In summing up, I picked out a few key themes from the day. Outside of the creative agencies, the theme of simplicity and user engagement came over time and again. As always with mobile, the speakers stressed the need to develop campaigns that were relevant to users in a highly personal marketing channel.

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